The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 is now in force. It makes both psychological and physical domestic abuse specific criminal offences.
If a person carries out a course of abusive behaviour towards a partner or ex-partner which a ‘reasonable person’ would consider likely to cause the partner or ex-partner physical or psychological harm, or shows reckless disregard for the consequences of their actions, then an offence is committed. If this behaviour occurs where a child is present at the same time, this is an aggravation of the offence.
Partners (or ex-partners) who seek to control a partner’s lifestyle, cause them to become dependent or subordinate, isolate them from friends and family, deprive them of freedom of action, or who frighten, humiliate, degrade or punish them, commit an offence.
Behaviour which may be considered ’humiliating’ by a partner or ex-partner, and which is shared on social media (and which may fall short of being threatening and abusive) could fall within the Act.
Individuals should be aware of the potential legal consequences arising from social media posts (including those posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube) which could be considered ‘humiliating’. While social media platforms have obvious communication benefits when used wisely, the ease with which potentially harmful words and imagery can be sent is something that should be borne in mind with the coming into effect of the new legislation.
‘Partner’ refers to a spouse, civil partner, cohabitant as if the spouse of each other or to persons in an intimate personal relationship with each other and an ex-partner is determined accordingly.
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